Gang member charged with fire that trapped several residents of a home

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MONTICELLO – Sullivan County Sheriff Mike Schiff has announced the arrest of a member of the Bloods Street Gang in connection with a structure fire in the town of Thompson on August 2, 2021.

According to Schiff, Firefighters responded to a structure fire at a multi-family dwelling on August 2, at approximately 1:40 p.m. The structure at 428 Fraser Road, across the street from the Kiamesha Bowling Alley, was engulfed in flames when they arrived.  First responders evacuated seven residents from the burning building, including an 11-month-old child.  One victim, a 59-year-old man, was trapped and suffered burns before firefighters rescued him.

County fire investigators at the scene said the fire appeared to have been intentionally set and requested assistance from the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office.  According to Schiff, Deputy Sheriff Corey Dixon conducted the investigation and tracked the suspect, Charles James Ellis, to a residence in Liberty, where he was taken into custody with the assistance of Liberty Police on August 11, 2021.

28-year-old Ellis, a resident of KIamesha Lake, is charged with the felonies of Arson, Burglary, Reckless Endangerment, and Assault, arraigned in Thompson Justice Court, and remanded to the Sullivan County Jail without bail.

Deputy Sheriff Corey Dixon escorts defendant Charles Ellis into the Sheriff’s headquaters on Wednesday (8/11/21)..

Sheriff Schiff said that the reputed gang member intentionally set the fire in an attempt to cover up a burglary he had committed in one of the rooms at the house.  “This was a serious crime that could have resulted in multiple fatalities. It is reported that embers from the fire were falling into the crib of the 11-month-old child when firefighters arrived,” said the sheriff, adding “The structure was an old rooming house that the fire moved through very quickly.”

Schiff praised the efforts of the first responders, saying “Our firefighters did an outstanding job and saved lives”.  He also acknowledged the efforts of Deputy Corey Dixon for his efforts to close the case.

The 59-year-old male resident who suffered 2nd and 3rd-degree burns was transported to Westchester Medical Center and is expected to recover.